Cannabis is no longer just about therapeutics. It is a whole cannabis market with a bright future ahead.
Cannabis, Hemp, Marijuana… What is what?
Hemp and marijuana are two varieties of Cannabis sativa. In US law, the main differences lie in their chemical composition – they both contain cannabidiol (CBD) but hemp does not contain more than 0,3% of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabibol (THC), use and cultivation practices. Marijuana generally refers to the variety of cannabis used as psychotropic drug while hemp is rather cultivated for manufactured and industrial goods.
What are CBD and THC?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid present in cannabis plants. It is found that CBD has many properties. CBD has no psychoactive effect and is legal in most countries if extracted from hemp plants.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid most present in the majority of cannabis strains. Like CBD, it also has various therapeutic effects. THC has a psychoactive effect and is responsible for the “high” effect. It is then illegal in most countries.
Why so much enthusiasm?
Cannabis was used mainly in India and China for medical and religious purposes before the Christian era. It was introduced in Western medicine in the mid-19th century. Its popularity decreased in the first half of the 20th century and it was prohibited in most countries. In the 1960’s, recreational use regained popularity in Western world and scientific interest in cannabis increased. In the beginning of the 21st century, it gained medical concern and was used both legally and illegally by ill people seeking to alleviate their symptoms. Now, it also raises wellness interest.
CBD has been particularly in the spotlight in recent years for various reasons. Thanks to its numerous properties and administration possibilities, CBD has become a “super ingredient” recognized by health care and wellness industry as well as by consumers. It has also gained recognition in pop culture by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and some have even turned into “cannapreuneurs” like Whoopi Goldberg or Mike Tyson. That word-of-mouth and media exposure, be it through the press or social networks, increased the popularity of CBD and cannabis as a therapeutic remedy.
Secondly, cannabis legalization plays a major role. Both medical and recreational cannabis have been legalized in Canada, Uruguay and some states in the U.S.A. In an increasing number of countries, medical use has been legalized. In others, medical and/or recreational use is decriminalized. Yet, cannabis is still prohibited in a lot of countries.
As well as the cannabis market, the expansion of the CBD market has been boosted by laws. The legalization of cannabis recreational use in Canada and in various states of the U.S have been key drivers, but in the U.S.A, the 2018 Farm Bill also had a major role, as it legalized hemp-derived CBD at a federal level. 
An increase in consumer interest… and curiosity.
Google Trends show a continuous increase in global internet searches for “cbd”, over the past five years. In 2014, the number of “cbd” searches was thirteen times lower compared to 2019. The related sectors “Foods and Drinks”, “Health”, “Body care and Wellness” and “Shopping” display the same trend in increasing research.
The related researches vary: “cbd gummies”, “holland and barrett”, “cbd oil near me”, “cbd oil for dogs”, “green roads cbd”, “full spectrum cbd”, “cbd oil for anxiety”, “plus cbd oil”.
How much is cannabis market worth?
According to the 2019 World Drug Report, released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), the number of global cannabis users in 2017 is 188,040 million. The upper estimate reaches 219,020 million. Of course, as people get educated about cannabis and cannabinoids, this number is very likely to increase.
In March 2019, an article released by The Green Fund stated that the global cannabis market is thought to be worth USD 150 billion today and USD 272 billion by 2028, from Barclays’ “Report from September 2018” .
According to the market research database Grand View Research who released a study in May 2019, the global legal marijuana market size is expected to reach USD 66.3 bn by the end 2025, which would represent a growth of 23.9%. The study also states that the U.S. legal cannabis market was valued USD 11.9 bn in 2019. 
CBD sales should exceed USD 5 bn by the end of 2019 and reach USD 23.7 bn by 2023 according to research by Brightfield Group released in an article by Forbes. 
But evaluating how much cannabis market is worth now and in the future is hard as figures can vary. In February 2019, according to a study released by Cowen, CBD sales in US should increase up to USD 16 bn by 2025. In May 2019, another study released by BDS Analytics stated that CBD sales in U.S. should reach USD 20 bn by 2024 and that CBD sales combined with THC sales in U.S. should reach USD 45 bn by 2024.
Who are the main players in cbd and legal cannabis market?
In 2017, a study by Brightfield Group and Hello MD already highlighted the fact that having CBD brands had become mainstream, creating a highly-fragmented market where each brand could only claim a very small market share. According to a study by Nielsen the number of cannabis brands in the U.S. have only been multiplied by 16 from 2014 to 2018, increasing from 166 to 2650.
Hemp and cannabis markets are now the battlefield of billions-worthy groups or companies and is characterized by a high intra-market and cross-market corporate activity. According to 27/7 Wall Street, the top 10 U.S. and Canadian marijuana companies based on market capitalization at year-end 2018, in billion USD was:
- Canopy Growth (Can): 9.28
- Tilray (Can): 6.57
- Aurora Cannabis (Can): 4.99
- Scotts Miracle-Gro (U.S.): 3.4
- GW Pharmaceutical (U.K): 3.15
- Cronos Group (Can): 1.87
- Aphria (Can): 1.43
- Hexo (Can): 0.93
- Canntrust (Can): 0.69
- Green Organic Dutchman (Can): 0.66
Most of them have specialized in medical cannabis product or services. One can understand why. According to a study published by Adroit Market Research, medical cannabis market is expected to increase by 29.3%, up to USD 56.7 bn by 2026.
But some of these groups are also diversified. For instance, In May 2019, Canopy Growth introduced via a press Spectrum Therapeutics, a global brand that includes all medical and clinic research activities of the company. Canopy Growth has also chosen to extend to beauty and wellness sectors through its brands Van der Pop and recently acquired CBD brand This Works, as well as accessories through Maitri.
It should be highlighted that those cannabis groups are often vertically integrated. They own the entire channel, from production to sale.
What does CBD and legal cannabis market consist in today? What will they consist in the (not so far) future?
To figure out why cannabis market is skyrocketing, one must understand the consumer trends that lie underneath. Those trends account for the rising demand of cannabis and hemp-derived products.
In November 2018, BDS Analytics published its top 10 cannabis market trends. Among them, affordability, brand surge, demand in variety, forms follow function, marketing for mood, luxury brand development.
In 2019, another report published by BDS Analytics displayed 2019 Cannabis market trends, which stress new important key drivers in cannabis and CBD market expansion. Amongst them:
- The emergence of cannabis social consumption,
- The fact that consumers are aging, some may develop a medical interest in cannabis in order to alleviate certain conditions.
- The line between medical and recreational consumption is blurry and merely a legal situation: legalizing medical consumption is the first step in the whole legalization process.
- The importance of outcome-based products, that guarantee control over the quantity consumed.
- The refocus on the core. Consumers value quality and innovation, but they also value sustainability in production and distribution. Local, natural, organic, social interested, back-to-basics brands are the new keywords when shopping.
Food and beverage market: why would it work?
A study by Deloitte, Nurturing new Growth | Canada gets ready for Cannabis 2.0, revealed that current users’ main reasons for use of cannabis-infused edibles are to have fun with friends (53%), to reduce stress or anxiety (41%), to help you relax or sleep (41%), to improve your mood (41%) and to use it as an alternative to alcohol (37%).
- Cannabis in alcoholic drinks: toward a mindful consumption
According to a study by IWSR, worldwide alcohol consumption has declined by 1,6%. Beer and wine volume has decrease while alcohol free/low products are on the rise. Alcohol-free beers are expected to grow at 8,8% and alcohol-free wine at 13,5%. Given that new scope, cannabis could replace ABV as a social lubricant as a more responsible “buzz”.
E.g.: Lagunitas’ Hi-Fi Hops (CBD/ THC) and cannabis beers
- Cannabis in soft drinks
So far, cannabis and hemp are most used in hot drinks (tea, infusions, and even coffee). They are popular for their natural, ethic and over-wellness properties. But they can also be infused in water, juices or energy drinks.
E.g.: Brewbudz’s coffee pods, Holland & Barret’s Love Hemp Water, GFarma Labs’ G Lemonade
- Cannabis in packaged foods
Hemp has many nutritional qualities but now, hemp-infused edibles are rather branded as CBD-infused. Edibles with THC are also developing, following the trend of “mood food” (e.g.: Dixie’s fruit gums). The study by Deloitte mentioned above shows that infused-cannabis edibles mainly used by current and likely users are gummy bears, cookies, brownies and chocolate.
- Cannabis in food service
For people looking for a new experience, TripAdvisor already has a “Top restaurants for weed”. For people wanting convenience and on-the-go foods, U.S company Nugg can deliver cannabis infused food at your home. Coffeeshops will also have a role to play as they can stand as a socialization hub.
Cannabis in tobacco industry
A press released published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.) in January 2018, announced that “overall, cigarette smoking among U.S. adults declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 15.5% in 2016”. This let room for cannabis to gain value in tobacco industry. Smoking and vaping foster sales of flowers, CBD and THC e-liquids but also gadgetry.
Cannabis in healthcare and beauty
The current hemp branding tends to be replaced by CBD branding, as CBD is considered as the new super-ingredient for its various properties. Scrubs, creams and serums, bath bomb, masks, make-up… The possibilities are endless. Most of cosmetics groups or brands are expected to have a CBD product line in their portfolio. CBD and THC’s future also lies in neurocosmetics. CBD and THC creams would affect not only your skin appearance, but also your mood, your sleep or your appetite even through topical application (e.g.: Cannabisan’s NeuroCream).
And much more…
Cannabis also has a great potential in other industries. For instance, hemp finally made it to fashion as fabrics made from hemp are eco-friendlier, since cultivating hemp is more sustainable than cultivating cotton. In packaging, hemp could be processed so as to be a sustainable alternative to plastic in the future. In tourism, it already has the same interest as wine or tea-growing regions. The “Emerald triangle” for instance, has become a real attraction for tourist seeking new experience. Cannabis also has a bright future in pet care industry (shampoos, edibles…): not only medical cannabis also works for pets, but pet owners are often willing to invest a lot in their animals’ wellness. An article released by The Guardian highlights the interesting fact that some cannabis brand have managed to position themselves on high-end and luxury segments through “ultra-premium’ gadgetry, joints and cosmetics for instance.
It is clear that the cannabis market will disrupt most of FMCG industries since it can be used for so many purposes and so many different ways. The last blockade is law, and it is likely to fall in a near future.
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Did you like the post? Give us some feedback! This post has been done based on existent research to the date of publication of the article. Due to the increase in studies based on medical cannabis, the information provided can vary over time and we’ll keep informing in further writings.
 Kertez, A., (May 30, 2018). Celebrity Cannapreneurs: 16 Celebrities Cashing in on the Green Revolution, Medium.
 World Drug Report 2019 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.19.XI.9), p. 59
 Grand View Research (May 2019), “Legal Marijuana Market Worth $66.3 Billion By 2025 | CAGR: 23.9%”, available at: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-legal-marijuana-market (accessed date: 09/18/2019)
 Boulder (May 9, 2019), “U.S. CBD Market Anticipated to Reach $20 Billion in Sales by 2024”, BDS Analytics, available at: https://bdsanalytics.com/u-s-cbd-market-anticipated-to-reach-20-billion-in-sales-by-2024/ (accessed date: 09/17/2019)
 Brightfield Group and Hello MD (July 2017), Understanding Cannabidiol | CBD, p. 17
 Nielsen, (July 26, 2019). Brace For Impact: U.S. CPG Cannabis Sales To Rise By The Billions.
 Adroit Market Research, (June 12, 2019), Medical Cannabis Market will grow at CAGR of 29.3% to hit $56.70 Bn by 2026 – Global 2019 Analysis by Growth, Size, Share, Price, and Recent Initiatives
 News provided by Canopy Growth Corporation (May 22, 2019).Canopy Growth acquires established skincare and well-being company This Works®. Cision.
 BDS Analytics (November 16, 2018). BDS Analytics’ Top 10 Cannabis Market Trends for 2018 (UPDATED 11/16).
 BDS Analytics, (2019), BDS ANALYTICS’ Top Ten Cannabis Market Trends for 2019, presented by R. Bingham and J. Lukas
 Deloitte. (March 2019), Nurturing new growth | Canada gets ready for Cannabis 2.0